November 11, 2013

Honoring Authority

God Himself has borne fruit in our ministry, and there is no question that it's been Him. Within His movement, I believe strongly that He has given my husband favor in our community because of one main thing. That thing is not leadership ability, hard work, charisma, or preaching skills, although he has those in spades if I do say so myself.

It is honor. Kyle has chosen to faithfully honor authority. Our church plant is the first time he has been the lead guy, so he's had lots of experience following others. Even when he has disagreed, even when he has had to take criticism himself because of behind-the-scenes decisions made by authority, even when it has been painstakingly difficult to do, he's done it. He's defended, held his tongue, respected his authority, and not let different ideas keep him from faithfully and fervently carrying out his ministry. Honor goes beyond external submission or assent. Honor resides in the heart and attitude, and I've seen my husband wrestle to get his heart and attitude in a God-honoring and authority-honoring place.
So I believe because he has honored his God-given authorities, God has honored him. I believe, too, that his honor of those he's served alongside as peers has been equally important. Working with others, championing their ministries, celebrating them, and learning from different styles have been vital lessons for him in preparation for church planting.

I've learned a lot in this area from my husband. I am not naturally a good follower, and I tend to be pretty opinionated and critical, especially about leaders. I've learned from Kyle how important it is to submit to the authorities God has placed in my life, and I've learned how to always look for the other side of the situation. How can I focus on the strengths of those in authority rather than the negatives? How can I give that person the benefit of the doubt? Am I expecting something from them that I wouldn't want someone expecting from me? Could it be that there are things I don't know about going on behind the scenes or that I am not privy to all the information?

Now that we're on the other side, I obviously see authority a little differently than I used to. I know what leadership entails and how difficult it is and how most people are quick to evaluate or see the negatives. I know that there are things that go on behind the scenes that inform certain decisions and that those decisions can be misconstrued because not all the information can be said publicly. I also see the personal side of the leader and how much he loves the people he serves. I want our church to honor my husband and give him the benefit of the doubt, and, thankfully, they very much do.

However, it points a spotlight right back onto my own heart and attitude about authority and honor. How do I speak of the other leaders who are not my husband? How do I champion those who lead, especially those who lead differently than how I might do something? How do I respond when an authority lovingly corrects me? How do I relate to others around me that I don't naturally connect with?

Sometimes honor is painful and difficult and sometimes it is a joy, but is always necessary if we are to be ministers of the gospel. In relation to church planting, a refusal to submit to authority leads some to start their own churches, but this is a horrible reason to do so. Because honor is a matter of the heart, it follows you into new endeavors. If honor hasn't been cultivated in our hearts prior to church planting, it plays out in how we deal with criticism and how we work with other church planters in our cities and how we manage and care for the team that comes with us. 

Honoring others comes down to honoring God. I'm trying to teach this to my children because we could use a whole lot more honor in our home right now. I say to them, "When you shoot an arrow of honor toward your brother, you're shooting another one up to God at the same time." (I know shooting arrows seems contrary to honor, but talk of shooting arrows makes boys sit up straight and pay attention.) The point is, we honor God by honoring others, because God created the people we're relating to and because He's put those people in authority over us. If we cannot honor people who have only borrowed authority, how will we honor the One who has all true authority? 

So go shoot your arrows today. Shoot your arrows of honor toward those you serve alongside, toward your spouse, and toward your children. Because when you do, you're shooting an arrow of honor straight to the heart of God.